A CEO’s Top Tips to Thrive in a Highly Competitive E-commerce Landscape

StartupBeat Team
By StartupBeat Team June 19, 2024

The e-commerce industry is experiencing exponential growth, with global sales projected to hit $8.1 trillion by 2026. While the e-commerce goliaths are undoubtedly making huge waves in the industry, they have an unexpected Achilles heel: agility. 

The digital revolution of shopping has proven to be a double-edged sword, as increasingly tech-savvy consumers are expecting more intuitive, personalized, and efficient online shopping experiences. 

Enter Nathan Focht, CEO of CommerceV3, a leading full-service cloud platform for high-volume digital commerce that processes over $1 billion annually for merchants. With over two decades of SaaS leadership experience, Nathan shares why audience and client centrality is key to achieving success in a competitive market, plus the must-have tools for businesses looking to scale. 

With your 20+ years in SaaS and e-commerce, how have you seen the landscape evolve?

The e-commerce landscape has changed dramatically over the past 25 years. The first thing we have seen is the evolution of what makes an efficient website. In the early days, there were few standards and best practices. We were trying to improve our features while also trying to teach users how to shop online. Now, the shoppers are very sophisticated, and we do not have to worry as much about whether they know how to use the website.

The next big change was the growth and failure of large venture capital e-commerce software solutions. When we first started, every website was built by a small regional developer or a small company like ours. Over the years, however, well-funded companies have joined the market and drawn lots of attention to their brands. Unfortunately for their merchants, they all seem to grow too big and lose focus, leading to the ultimate collapse of the business. These cycles of “the next big thing” create instability for the industry and their merchants.

Finally, websites themselves have evolved over the years. At first, they were not attractive and focused on the mechanics of a shopping cart. Then, we saw a period where brands were trying to be sexy, different, or innovative with the site to catch the shoppers’ attention in the chaotic noise of Google results. But, we have now matured as an industry and are looking for a more standardized functionality with an attractive but not distracting design. We want the shopper to have no barrier to the buy button. 

How has CommerceV3 adapted to stay ahead of the curve?

CV3 has always been guided by the belief that you have to listen to your customers and what they believe they need to succeed. If you start to dictate how their e-commerce service should behave without their input, you will miss what is critical and lose your opportunities. 

I’m not the master of all things e-commerce and I do not believe anyone is that master. We all bring knowledge, experiences, and fresh ideas. By working in collaboration with our user base, we can combine our skills into new ideas and product evolution — joining forces will lead to success. The challenge is actually supplying the required manpower to implement these ideas, not coming up with them.

With so many e-commerce platforms available, what makes CommerceV3 stand out, particularly for high-volume merchants?

While the large corporate players demand a lot of attention and market share, they typically all have the same challenge: they cannot offer personal attention to their merchants. They’re just too large to truly know their clients on a personal level. 

At CV3, we believe this is the key to success for our clients, and thus, us. If you were a client of ours, when you call, we pick up and know your name, your staff, and your business. When we’re launching a new feature, we know whether it’s something that will improve your sales, and we will take the time to reach out and let you know. We strive to treat every merchant’s business as though we were co-owners with you. That is what makes us both successful.

Can you provide an example of how CommerceV3 has helped a client overcome challenges or achieve significant growth?

There have been so many over the years that it is hard to think of stand-out moments. To us, every issue they raise is significant. 

We have resolved massive ad spends set up by other consultants to provide 12 times the returns where there were previous losses. Another time, we pulled a 60-hour weekend marathon, entering data and taking photos from a catalog when a client had a vendor just shut them down without notice. We have helped a client devastated by a facility fire find other merchants to take orders and ship inventory so that the fire didn’t destroy their revenues. 

Being a partner is being there to do anything you can, not just what you say you provide on your business card.

What are the benefits of a full-service cloud platform for businesses looking to scale?

I believe we need to offer as many services for our merchants as possible. One of the challenges for any business is finding quality vendors and then managing those relationships. If we can offer several of those needs at one stop, we’re effectively saving merchants time and frustration. We can take that work on our backs and allow our merchants to focus on growing their business, which is what they enjoy and know how to do.

You’ve led CommerceV3 to process over $1 billion annually. Can you walk us through your leadership approach and the key milestones in CommerceV3’s journey?

I wish I could claim that I had a plan or that I was the mastermind of our success. But that is just not the case. My partner and I have focused on offering a good product, great service, and a servant mindset. If you do right by your customers, they tell other businesses how great you are as a vendor—they reach out and give you leads to help you grow. 

As for staff, we believe in finding great people who know how to do their job. If you have the right people by your side, they will know what to do, when to do it, and when to tell you they need help. If you give your team the freedom to own their job, they will reward you by being as invested in your business as you are. 

I’m not sure if we are good or lucky in our success, but either way, I am grateful for all those involved in CommerceV3 and our shared success.